John Vandermere, Still-life and Scene Painter

(b. 1743, d. 1786)

Still-life and Scene Painter

From A Dictionary of Irish Artists 1913

A family of this name, presumably of Dutch origin, was long resident in Dublin, and several of its members were house-painters as well as artists. JAMES VANDERMERE is mentioned as a "Painter" in the parish records of St. Michan in 1699, and he was probably the person of the same name who was admitted as a quarter-brother in the Corporation of Painter-Stayners and Cutlers, the Guild of St. Luke, in 1706. A JOHN VANDERMERE was a quarter-brother of the Guild in 1712, and was admitted to its freedom in 1732. He is mentioned in the records of St. Michan's in 1712 and 1716, and was probably the "John Vandermere, Painter, of the parish of St. Andrew," whose will, dated 18th February, 1732, was proved on 28th February, 1735. In the probate he is styled "Pictor." HALE VANDERMERE was admitted a free brother of the Guild in 1733, and died in 1765; and JOHN BYRON VANDERMERE, "son of Mr. Vandermere, painter, late a free brother," was admitted in 1774.

JOHN VANDERMERE, son of Henry and Katherine, was baptized in St. Andrew's church on 13th July, 1743. He became a pupil in the Dublin Society's School, where he won prizes in 1756 and 1758. After some time he abandoned art for the stage, and in 1768 made his appearance as an actor at the Haymarket theatre under Samuel Foote, and remained there until 1771. In November of that year he joined the Crow Street company and continued to reside and act in Ireland until his death. He was playing in Cork in the summer of 1773, and painted, for a comic interlude called "The Humours of Cork," a "View of the Cove with the Harbour, Haulbowline Island and Castle." Probably, like John Lewis, Pope and Wilder, he occupied his leisure in painting. In 1777 he, with Sparks and Waddy, opened the Fishamble Street music-hall as a theatre; a venture which did not prove successful. On the 8th June, 1778, he and Sparks had a benefit at Crow Street theatre to enable them to discharge their debts; and in the same year Vandermere managed two amateur theatrical performances given in the Ranger's Lodge in the Phoenix Park.

Vandermere was for many years a favourite on the Irish stage; he was a humorous comedian and excelled as a harlequin; and the loss of some of his teeth enabled him to play the parts of old men realistically. He died in 1786 of a violent fever, and was buried on the 1st February at St. Andrew's, where his father and others of his family were interred. Vandermere married the daughter of a clergyman named Maunsell. In the collection of J. B. Cuvillie sold in Dublin in 1789,* was "a Lobster and Fruit, by Vandermere"; and a "Landscape and Figures" was in the collection of Lord Harberton, sold in May, 1836.


* John Baptist Cuvillie was a house-painter and decorator in Dublin. He was admitted to the freedom of the Corporation of Painter-Stayners in 1736 on the termination of his apprenticeship to John Robinson; he was a Warden of the corporation in 1750 and Master in 1777, and died on 16th September, 1788. He was a connoisseur and collector, and in February, 1789, his collection of china, pictures, etc., was sold by auction in the Exhibition Room in William Street. Cuvillie invented a composition for chimney-pieces, tables, etc. The catalogue of his sale says: "Mr. Cuvillie spent many years in bringing these imitations of the most rare marbles to perfection; they are in general equal to nature in durability and polish, and will be found very well worth the notice of gentlemen in the building line."

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